Superintendent's Letter - January 4th

Dear Westside Parents and Community Members,

I hope that you had a restful winter break, with time spent on the family activities that you enjoy most.  Rain and snow, which our state needed to prevent greater drought, provided a reminder of the beauty of the Antelope Valley, and the opportunity for winter sports which many families spend time doing together.  

I was very proud of the academic growth made by our students from their initial NWEA assessment in August to their 2nd assessment in the 2nd quarter.  Our reading intervention program for our primary students especially showed the impact of the extra instruction received 4 days a week.  This program will continue to be available to students in most need of support in the next quarter of the school year.  In fact, early data shows that roughly 85% of participants showed improvement.  Thanks for supporting your children’s progress during the first semester.  Together we are making a difference for our students.  

As always, the safety of our students and staff is of the highest priority.  Unfortunately, the latest variant of COVID has once again spread rapidly across our county.  While we anticipated receiving promised at-home COVID tests for our students from the Los Angeles County Office of Education, at this date they have not been delivered.  Based on the communication we received yesterday, they may be delivered late next week, but will not be received this week.  Rest assured that as soon as we receive the tests, they will be distributed at each school site.  Testing is not a requirement at this time, but we know many parents want the opportunity to administer the tests to their children. 

For parents who want the assurance from their children receiving a negative COVID test prior to the start of 2nd semester, the District will make available PCR tests.  From 8-11 am on Thursday, January 6th at the Maintenance and Operations Facility located on the District Office Complex, 41910 50th St. W, Quartz Hill, staff will be available to help with testing which is on a walk-in basis.  Once the testing session is complete, tests will be sent to a lab for processing and parents will receive the results via email from the lab.  The results are usually received within 48-72 hours.  Again, testing is not being required for students to return to school, however, parents have asked about providing testing especially since the over the counter tests will not arrive before Monday.

There is also a change in the mask wearing requirement from both the Los Angeles County Department of Health and the California Department of Health.  Within the first 2 weeks after we return to classes, all students and staff must wear masks on campus both indoors and outdoors except while eating or drinking.  It has also been recommended by the health agency that where possible surgical masks covered by cloth masks provide greater protection.  Our staff members will be required to wear surgical masks going forward.  

Both the health agencies in our state and county and CDC continue to recommend vaccinations for students 5 and older, including boosters when approved.  Vaccinations, however, are not required at this time.  

These changes, both the required and recommended, are expected to remain in place until such time as the spread of the Omicron variant is slowed or stopped, which is hoped to be sometime during the spring semester.  Again, these requirements, which have been developed by the Los Angeles County Department of Health and the California Department of Health, are expected to keep all of us safer, while accomplishing keeping our schools and classrooms open for our students to receive in person instruction.  

On another note, current data shows that most businesses, including schools, will continue to experience high rates of employee absenteeism until this variant is under control.  One widely broadcast example of this rate of absences was evident in the air travel industry over the holidays.  At this point, the estimate is that 10% of employees will be absent from work on a daily basis due to having COVID or having an exposure to someone who was COVID positive.  School districts throughout the state, including Westside, have struggled to fill vacancies for the past 2 school years, especially in the area of substitute teachers.  So it is our hope that by working together to keep both students and staff healthy, our rate of absences will have a minimal impact on students.  It also provides another reminder that if you have always wanted to work in the field of education, we may have a job for you.  Please check our website for more information.  

Upcoming Dates to remember:
January 10, 2022    Students return to class from winter break
January 17, 2022    Holiday recognizing the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King
January 18, 2022    Westside Union School District Board of Trustees Meeting
            Public Session begins at 6 p.m., Agenda available on the website 
   in the afternoon of January 14, 2022

Again, thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work through these unprecedented times.  We are looking forward to having our students return to school on Monday, January 10th.  Please enjoy the remainder of winter break.

Happy New Year,
Regina L. Rossall
Regina L. Rossall